The one where UO learns a lesson from U-M

August, 27, 2014
Aug 27
7:30
PM ET
Initially, when I sat down to write about the Oregon Ducks-South Dakota Coyotes game, a few things came to mind.
  1. Maybe I should compare South Dakota to the opening act and Michigan State to the main show. That's essentially what this is, right?
  2. "The best that Oregon fans can hope for is an injury-free game and a second half that calls for rosters to be pulled out of pockets so they can keep track of who's actually on the field."
  3. Lame. Lame. Lame. FCS. C'mon, bro.
  4. They're the Coyotes? Maybe I can do something clever with that.

And then I realized I've seen this before. I've seen a major power get cocky about an FCS opponent coming into their stadium to open the season. I've seen a team look ahead to Week 2 before handling its business in Week 1. I've seen fans in the position where most Oregon fans find themselves right about now.

And I've seen it all come crashing down, when a seemingly unstoppable machine screeches to a halt.

I saw the worst upset in college football. Ever.

My first football game as a student at the University of Michigan was Appalachian State, 2007. You remember that one, right? Everyone does.

But heading into that week, no one was talking about the Appalachian State game. Everyone wanted the Week 2 opponent, Oregon. That -- the big, bad Mike Bellotti Ducks -- would be the real measuring stick for the Wolverines, who went into that season ranked No. 6.

Chad Henne. Jake Long. Mike Hart. Lloyd Carr -- this was all anyone talked about through Michigan's annual Welcome Week (on the first school day of the year, the student newspaper would turn that into its headline: "Welcome WEAK" with a photo of a dejected Henne walking off the field after the 34-32 loss).

All the talk entering the season was that this was the year. If Michigan was going to win another national title, the time was now.

In the week leading up to the game, posts on the then-newish Facebook linked to a scene from “The Longest Yard.” In it Adam Sandler's character tells Burt Reynolds' character: "In college, we'd start every season against Appalachian State or some slack Division-II team, kick the living s--- out of them, get their confidence up."

Reynolds laughs.

So did Michigan fans.

The only time that clip became more famous was after Michigan lost to Appalachian State and suddenly it was being passed around the Internet with the caption "LOLOLOL Michigan" or "Yep, they deserve this."

And maybe they did. Pride does come before the fall. And while App State was an FCS national champion and South Dakota is ... well ... not, the lesson still applies: There's a difference between confidence and cockiness.

But right now? Take it from Michigan, Oregon fans, this isn't the time to be cocky. Sure, be confident. You have Marcus Mariota and three running backs who apparently are going to set the world on fire and an All-American cornerback. And you've got one heck of an opponent in Week 2 ... but that comes seven days after Week 1.

And you can guarantee that if this game somehow goes south, those seven days are going to feel terrible and that feeling will last a lifetime.

Because last time I checked, they'll have 11 players on the field and so will Oregon. And just remember: David beat Goliath; "Shakespeare in Love" beat out "Saving Private Ryan" for Best Picture; Harry Truman beat Thomas Dewey in the 1948 presidential election.

Oh, how the mighty fall. And fall hard at that.

I didn't see Michigan in action against Oregon in Week 2 in 2007. I sold my ticket. The Wolverines lost that one, too, I heard. And suddenly, at 0-2 Michigan was nowhere near the national champion conversation. Despite all the talent they had returning on the offensive side of the ball (sound familiar?) they were bunk.

And who remembers that season most? Appalachian State and the rest of the world. Who knows what App State did the rest of the season, because they beat Michigan in Week 1. That's all that matters.

Earlier this week, South Dakota coach Joe Glenn told The Oregonian's John Canzano that this game is going to be the "stuff our kids will tell their grandchildren."

And I promise you that if Oregon somehow manages to lose this one, those grandchildren -- when they find out you went to Oregon or are/were an Oregon fan -- will say, "Hey, remember that time..." Every time. Every. Freaking. Time.

It happens to me, sometimes. I smile politely, nod and say, "Yep, I was there in the southwest corner of the stadium."

And, like Reynolds did in "The Longest Yard," they will shake their heads and laugh.

It'll be somewhere between sympathy and hilarity for them.

And for Oregon fans? It'll taste like humble pie.

It's terrible. Just ask Michigan fans.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

Comments

Use a Facebook account to add a comment, subject to Facebook's Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your Facebook name, photo & other personal information you make public on Facebook will appear with your comment, and may be used on ESPN's media platforms. Learn more.


PAC-12 SCOREBOARD

Friday, 12/26
Saturday, 12/20
Monday, 12/22
Tuesday, 12/23
Wednesday, 12/24
Saturday, 12/27
Monday, 12/29
Tuesday, 12/30
Wednesday, 12/31
Thursday, 1/1
Friday, 1/2
Saturday, 1/3
Sunday, 1/4
Monday, 1/12